The Atlanta Braves have reached down to their pocket full of prospects for help in their pitching. With a banged-up pitching staff, the Braves have decided to promote 20-year-old prospect Smith-Shawver to the big leagues, the team announced via Twitter on Tuesday.
“The #Braves today selected the contract of RHP AJ Smith-Shawver to Atlanta and designated LHP Lucas Luetge for assignment.”
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) May 30, 2023
Smith-Shawver's rapid rise from a prospect to a big leaguer underscores how impressive his development has been in the minors. In 2022 with single-A Augusta GreenJackets, Smith-Shawver went 3-4 with a 5.11 ERA and 1.354 WHIP but showed great improvement the following year. He played for three teams across the minors (A, AA, AAA) and posted a 201 record plus a 1.09 ERA.
The ascension of Smith-Shawver to MLB comes amid the Braves carrying a number of pitchers on the injured list. Max Fried, Kyle Wright, Kolby Allard, and Huascar Ynoa are all out with injuries. Relievers Dylan Lee, Michael Tonkin, and Tyler Matzek are also on the injured list of the Braves, who are still a top-10 team in the majors in terms of ERA (3.74) and strikeouts (517).
The Braves have not yet announced when Smith-Shawver will make his debut in the big leagues, though, it's possible that it will come via a stint as a reliever.
Smith-Shawver was taken by the Braves in the seventh round of the 2021 MLB Draft out of Colleyville Heritage High School in Texas. According to his MLB profile, he is “big and projectable and already has an electric fastball-slider combination.”